Pac-12 M5: 10.11.12 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on October 11th, 2012

  1. Arizona State’s media day was on Tuesday, and as always, the ASU sports information department does a great job of getting their information out there. As ASU’s director of media relations Doug Tammaro put it, he’s got over 5,000 words on the Sun Devil basketball team, with tons of quotes from head coach Herb Sendek and players Jahii Carson and Evan Gordon. Given the fact that the team is coming off back-to-back subpar seasons (22-40 in the last two years), the Sun Devils have a lot to prove, but just reading through the enthusiasm that Sendek has about this collection of players and the confidence that Carson has in himself and his teammates, it isn’t that hard to envision this team overachieving its way into an upper-division conference finish. A lot would have to break right for that to happen, and the team needs to break through the Murphy’s Law culture that has seemingly taken hold in Tempe, but this ASU team should be an interesting watch all year long.
  2. Elsewhere in Tempe, Doug Haller of The Arizona Republic published an interview with ASU sophomore forward Jonathan Gilling on Sunday, and it too paints a picture of a Sun Devil squad ready to surprise people. Gilling, who came out of nowhere to start 18 games for the team and score in double figures eight times in conference play (quite an accomplishment as no better than a third option on a low-scoring team), looks around the roster and sees far more threats to give the opposition problems. Beginning with Carson and Gordon, but also extending to rapidly improving big man Jordan Bachynski and another incoming transfer in Bo Barnes, Gilling sees a completely different team. And, once again, we’ve got testimony from inside the program that Sendek’s promises for a more uptempo approach, including significantly more man-to-man defense, are not just lip service.
  3. Up in Pullman, Washington State is ready to plow ahead without the services of recently dismissed point guard Reggie Moore. Moore was head coach Ken Bone’s first recruit to WSU, but there is no use looking back now for him; he needs to begin to plan for the season without an obvious true point. At first glance it appears that it will be a point-guard-by-committee approach, with sophomore combo guard DaVonte Lacy, Kansas transfer Royce Woolridge, senior wing Mychal Ladd and sophomore Dexter Kernich-Drew all potentially chipping in to help get the Cougars into their offense. And, while we’re on Wazzu for a second, be honest, how many of you knew that former Oregon wing Brett Kingma landed in Pullman? Clearly, some of you did, but somehow this completely escaped my attention. It’s a good get for Bone, even if his freshman year in Eugene was a little bumpy and even if he’ll lose a year of eligibility by transferring within the conference.
  4. UCLA’s media day was yesterday, but it was significantly less revealing, if only because the biggest question about the Bruins’ season – if and when Shabazz Muhammad and Kyle Anderson will be declared eligible – remains presently unanswerable. So much so that UCLA had their vice chancellor of legal affairs, Kevin S. Reed, monitoring the press conference so that schools officials could remind the media whenever necessary that they wouldn’t be answering any questions about the NCAA review of Muhammad and Anderson’s eligibility. On a brighter note, however, it was announced that Pauley Pavilion is not only really, really close to being a completed project, but it is also a project that came in $44 million under budget. So, you know, the next time you’ve got a project that is gonna run you some nine-digit dollar amount, I believe UCLA’s got a contractor they can recommend.
  5. We’re back to the gridiron tonight with a less-than-stellar Thursday night affair between Arizona State and Colorado, and that means it is time for Connor and I to renew our prognosticating battle. I made up another game on Connor last week when USC bounced back from a rough start to pull away from Utah in the second half. Last week’s results leave Connor at 35-13 for the year, while I’m two games back at 33-15. Below are this week’s picks, with our predicted scores for our game of the week (Stanford at Notre Dame) in bold.
    Game Connor’s Pick Drew’s Pick
    Arizona State at Colorado Arizona State Arizona State
    Utah at UCLA UCLA UCLA
    California at Washington State Washington State California
    Oregon State at Brigham Young Brigham Young Oregon State
    USC at Washington USC USC
    Stanford at Notre Dame Notre Dame 38-31 Notre Dame 19-13
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Pac-12 Morning Five: 01.19.12 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on January 19th, 2012

  1. It’s that time of the year when injuries start to play a bigger role for teams around the country. This week we’ve talked about injuries to C.J. Wilcox (hip stress fracture, out this weekend), Brandon Smith (due back from a concussion tonight), Mychal Ladd (thumb injury, doubtful this weekend) and Trent Lockett (sprained ankle, doubtful). But as of yet, we haven’t mentioned USC’s Aaron Fuller, who is dealing with a labral tear in his left shoulder. Given that he is a lefty, this is a nearly debilitating injury and he is considering undergoing season-ending surgery as early as next week. It remains to be seen whether Fuller will play this weekend in Oregon, but given that he is easily USC’s best offensive player, losing him could made an already terrible offensive team even less potent.
  2. Speaking of USC, it’s no secret that Trojan fans are frustrated with their team’s 0-5 conference start and generally atrocious offensive play. Head coach Kevin O’Neill is frustrated too. And, while he is trying to keep this team focused on this season, he thinks he should have a good team on his hands next near. Not only will all of these current Trojan players have an extra year of experience under their belts (and guys like freshmen Byron Wesley and Alexis Moore and sophomore DeWayne Dedmon could sure use them), he expects to have point guard Jio Fontan back from his ACL injury, along with transfers Ari Stewart and J.T. Terrell, both from Wake Forest, and Eric Wise, from UC Irvine.
  3. Tying up a few loose ends, we talked about Richard Solomon’s academic ineligibility and Josh Watkins’ dismissal from Utah yesterday, but thought we’d also pass along some information from the local media on both situations. For Solomon, there isn’t a whole lot to report; he just didn’t make grades, but head coach Mike Montgomery hopes he can patch up those problems and return next season. For Watkins, it’s another story. All indications are that he is a good kid, but head coach Larry Krystkowiak just couldn’t ignore the “accountability issues” with Watkins any longer. He reportedly missed practice again on Monday, and after Krystkowiak had laid down a “zero tolerance” policy following a blowout loss to Colorado on New Year’s Eve, Watkins had to go. Krystkowiak said he hopes Watkins continues at Utah and receives his degree, and I’m sure he does, not just for Watkins’ sake, but for the sake of Utah’s graduation rates that will be in the garbage following all of the recent transfers out of the program.
  4. Washington has a big weekend ahead of it, what with conference-leading California and Stanford headed into Seattle for battles with first place on the lane. And in the midst of that atmosphere, it is possible that freshman forward (and starting tight end on the Husky football team) Austin Seferian-Jenkins could see his first action for the basketball team this weekend, although nothing is set in stone yet. Head coach Lorenzo Romar also confirmed that senior forward Darnell Gant would continue coming off the bench for the Huskies, with center Aziz N’Diaye and forward Desmond Simmons continuing to start up front.
  5. Lastly, we turn our attention to UCLA, who has won three straight games after starting 0-2 in conference play. Bruin players like David Wear and Tyler Lamb attribute the turnaround to a renewed emphasis on defensive intensity, with players taking pride in getting stops and learning to play as a team on that end. While UCLA has held its opponents to just 40.3% shooting from the field over the course of the winning streak, their trip to Oregon this weekend should present a much bigger challenge.
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Pac-12 Morning Five: 01.18.12 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on January 18th, 2012

  1. Arizona turned the ball over 28 times last weekend in its split with the Oregon schools, and clearly head coach Sean Miller was none too pleased with that effort. During a Tuesday news conference at the McKale Center, Miller repeatedly made reference to his team’s turnover problems, noting that even his 10-year-old son understands the concept of the double-dribble and that his team needs to catch the ball with two hands. He added that they should remember that they will be wearing blue jerseys this upcoming weekend when they travel to the Rockies, so they should try to throw the ball to blue jerseys. Things should improve drastically this weekend for the Wildcats, as Utah and Colorado are both among the worst teams in the country in forcing turnovers.
  2. Oregon was one of the teams forcing those Wildcat turnovers last weekend, and senior forward Olu Ashaolu was responsible for a couple of them. Ashaolu transferred from Louisiana Tech this season after finishing his bachelor’s degree there last year, and he’s an important cog in a Duck team that was drastically undersized last season. Ashaolu eventually decided on Oregon in part because of his friendship with fellow Torontonian and Oregon transfer, Devoe Joseph, who Ashaolu played AAU ball with in high school. And Joseph sees the 6’7” forward as vital to their team’s success, because Ashaolu is capable of being a tough rebounder, a scorer inside and a strong interior defender.
  3. Washington State returns to Beasley Coliseum on Thursday night for the first time since December 18, after spending their opening weekend of conference play hosting the Oregon schools in nearby Spokane. The Cougars played away from Pullman in an effort to draw bigger crowds when the students were away, and they did draw nearly 18,000 fans for those two games, but Ken Bone and company are glad to be back home this week. Now, if they can just get to work on the glass, they’ll be in business.
  4. Some housekeeping from around the conference, beginning with another note from that Bone news conference: Mychal Ladd is doubtful for this weekend with a thumb injury that kept him out of the Washington game last weekend. Ladd has missed six games this season due to that injury, which has flared up again. Washington’s C.J. Wilcox is doubtful for his team’s games against the Bay Area schools this weekend, a big loss for Lorenzo Romar in games with first place on line. And down at UCLA, junior De’End Parker, a junior college transfer who has played in just two games this year with the Bruins in part due to a knee injury, will be looking to transfer back closer to his home in the Bay Area to be near his ailing mother.
  5. Lastly, the last three seasons have been underwhelming for that UCLA program, what with a 14-18 performance in 2009-10 improved upon with last year’s NCAA Tournament appearance before struggling out of the gates this year. But head coach Ben Howland has a cadre of supporters in his former players who are now playing in the NBA. Eleven Bruins began this season on NBA rosters, and players and scouts alike credit Howland’s work in getting his guys ready for the next level. And, while players like Kevin Love may not have always loved playing under Howland, they understand that he helped them improve their games.
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Pac-12 Morning Five: 12.21.11 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on December 21st, 2011

  1. Three games in the conference last night, none all that interesting, although I suppose it is worth noting these days when the Pac-12 gets through a weeknight without sustaining any more losses. Arizona faced the toughest competition when they hosted Oakland and their talented and prolific senior point guard Reggie Hamilton, but the ‘Cats survived as they “held” him to 31 often spectacular points. Solomon Hill played just about as well as he’s ever played, scoring 23 points, grabbing 11 rebounds, handing out three assists and refusing to let the Wildcats lose. Elsewhere, freshman Norman Powell had a career-high 19 points as UCLA won its fourth straight and stuck its head over .500 for the first time this year by knocking off UC Irvine by 29. And Oregon used a 19-3 run in the middle of the second half to break open a tie-game against North Carolina Central and escape despite a sluggish performance.
  2. Arizona State junior center Ruslan Pateev was suspended for one game by the NCAA on Tuesday following an altercation (jump to the 30 second mark here) during the Sun Devils’ game Monday night in which he took a swing and connected to the back of the head of Southern Mississippi’s Torye Pelham following a little scuffle under the basket. Pateev was ejected from that game after being given a Flagrant 2 foul, and if he receives another foul of that degree this season he will be suspended the remainder of the year.
  3. Washington head coach Lorenzo Romar is trying to right the ship in Seattle and think he has narrowed down the Huskies’ problems to three areas: 1) defense, 2) ball movement, and, the big one, 3) chemistry. Thing one and thing two can be fixed either through effort or game-planning, but with a ton of scorers who like to have the ball in their hands coupled with a play-making point guard like Abdul Gaddy who needs to have the ball in his hands to be effective, there have been some problems figuring out everybody’s roles. And with Tony Wroten now taking a larger part of the offense, and often doing so by creating for himself off the dribble, guys like Terrence Ross and C.J. Wilcox have seen their shot attempts diminish. Ross and Wilcox both averaged over 13 field goal attempts per game in the first eight games, but since Wroten entered the starting lineup, Ross has averaged just eight while Wilcox has averaged 10. Wroten, meanwhile, has taken 38 shots from the field in those two games, and although he did so very effectively (scoring 50 points on those shots), a bigger concern is his ability to create for his teammates, having dished out just four assists in 68 minutes.
  4. Across the state, Washington State is back to full strength for the first time this season, as senior captain Abe Lodwick played for the first time, while Faisal Aden and Mychal Ladd returned from injuries in the Cougars’ last game against Western Oregon. In their absence, senior Charlie Enquist stepped up with by far the best stretch of his career, while freshmen DaVonte Lacy and Dexter Kernich-Drew saw dramatic increases in their playing time. Given the fact that the Cougs have now won their last five after starting the season 2-4, head coach Ken Bone has a chemistry test of his own coming up in the future. The players who helped WSU win those five straight have earned the right to continue getting minutes, while the returnees are certainly among the most talented Cougs. It will be interesting to see how those precious minutes get divided up in Pullman over the coming weeks. WSU has just one remaining non-conference game before they host the Oregon schools to open conference play, a week from tomorrow.
  5. Lastly, Lost Lettermen asks the question, is the West Coast Conference better than the Pac-12? Jim Weber says yes, if only for one season, pointing to Gonzaga, Saint Mary’s and BYU as the standard bearers. Anthony Olivieri takes the negative (rightly), pointing out that Cal and Stanford appear to be as good as the top of the WCC, while a team like Washington (and I would include Arizona) still has plenty of upside. And as bad as the bottom of the Pac-12 is this season, remember that Utah just beat Portland last night, and Portland (who has struggled through an absolutely brutal non-conference schedule) isn’t anywhere near the worst team in the WCC. Certainly the Zags, Gaels and Cougars are all solid programs, but even with the Pac-12 at its nadir, it is still better than the WCC. If you don’t just believe me, ask Ken Pomeroy, Jeff Sagarin and the RPI.
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Checking In On… the Pac-12

Posted by AMurawa on December 15th, 2011

Andrew Murawa is the RTC correspondent for the Pac-12 and Mountain West conferences. He is also a Pac-12 microsite staffer.

Reader’s Take

 

Top Storylines

  • Personnel Problems – Certainly every team around the country has to deal with some personnel problems of their own. Players get hurt, kids decide to transfer, suspensions get handed out. But, wow. Is it just me or does it seem like an already under-talented conference has been hammered by a string of issues that have robbed them of even more talent? The Reeves Nelson situation at UCLA has been run into the ground, while the Jabari Brown transfer (followed by Bruce Barron’s transfer) is old news in Oregon. Mike Montgomery at California had to suspended forward Richard Solomon just before they traveled to San Diego State, then on the day he was to be reinstated, he and roommate Allen Crabbe overslept and were late to a morning shootaround and began that game on the bench. Josiah Turner has suffered through a benching and a suspension for his inability to get to practices on time (and he potentially cost Arizona a win at Florida in the process). Sean Miller has also had to dismiss freshman Sidiki Johnson, while Utah’s leading scorer Josh Watkins was suspended for a game. Arizona State’s freshman point guard Jahii Carson, who head coach Herb Sendek figured would be the Sun Devils’ starter from day one, was declared ineligible for his freshman season following an insufficient ACT score.
  • Then there are the injuries – Washington State’s Abe Lodwick has yet to play this season, while Faisal Aden and Mychal Ladd have battled their own injuries in recent weeks. USC is without senior point guard Jio Fontan for the season, while sophomore center DeWayne Dedmon has had his development stunted by a couple injuries that he has played through. This week, just a day after Washington announced that senior Scott Suggs would take a redshirt year after struggling with his recovery from foot surgery, their center Aziz N’Diaye sprained his knee and will miss at least the next four games. Back in Eugene, Tyrone Nared had a knee sprain of his own and is out until conference play. And the above is just a partial list cut short for (relative) simplicity’s sake. Now, none of the above is meant to imply that without the above maladies the Pac-12 would be a great conference, just that on a list of all of the possible things that could have gone wrong for Pac-12 teams so far, the teams have seemingly gone out of their way to check off most of them.
Devoe Joseph, Oregon

It Has Only Been Two Games, But Devoe Joseph Has Made A Major Impact For Oregon (Chris Pietsch, The Register-Guard)

  • One Bit of Good NewsDana Altman at least had a bit of good news this week as Devoe Joseph, a senior transfer from Minnesota, played his first games in a Duck uniform and immediately proved his worth. Not only did Joseph lead Oregon in scoring in his first game out against Fresno State, he made a couple of huge momentum changing threes in the second half that helped spur the Ducks to victory. Not to be outdone, he came back on Monday in his second game in Eugene and helped preserve a win as he scored his team’s last eight points after Portland State had closed to within three with 90 seconds left. With Altman now basically trading a freshman (Brown) for the senior Joseph in the backcourt, this Duck team is loaded with veterans and could still make waves in conference play.
  • Very Few, If Any, Resume Wins – Starting right about now and reaching a crescendo in the early days of March, you’re going to hear a lot about who potential NCAA Tournament teams beat and where they beat them as a major criteria for an invitation to the Big Dance. That fact should have the Pac-12 shaking in its boots. To this point it looks like the best win by a Pac-12 team was Oregon State’s neutral-site victory over a Texas team that (1) was playing in its third game with a completely remade roster, and (2) hasn’t beaten anyone of note yet. Beyond that, what are the other wins the teams in this conference hope to hang their tournament resumes on? Cal knocking off a bad Georgia team? Arizona over a middling Clemson team? Stanford against Oklahoma State or North Carolina State? Worse yet, there just aren’t a whole lot of chances left on the schedule for teams to pick up defining wins in the non-conference. Zona goes to Seattle to play Gonzaga and Oregon hosts Virginia this weekend, while Cal travels to UNLV just before Christmas, and that’s it. The rest of the season is, more or less, flawed Pac-12 teams beating up on other flawed Pac-12 teams. In the end, a team like Washington had better either perform one hell of a lot better in road conference games than they have in the past few years OR make sure they win the Pac-12 Tournament, lest they be making NIT plans come March.

Player of the Year Watch

  • While no one has yet to step up and grab a lead in this race, Washington State’s Brock Motum did establish himself, albeit against lesser competition, as a legitimate horse in this race. The Cougs are in the midst of a four-game winning streak and Motum has averaged 16.3 points and 6.5 rebounds over that stretch. And Motum remains one of two Pac-12 players to score in double figures in each of his team’s games this season. The other? Washington’s Terrence Ross, who not only has proven himself to be a consistent scorer, but also a versatile talent capable of filling the stats sheet. On the season, Ross is averaging 16.5 points, 7 rebounds, 2.1 assists, a couple of threes and a block per night.
  • Elsewhere Allen Crabbe has continued to be an efficient scorer on a nightly basis for the Golden Bears (15.8 PPG on the season while shooting over 46% from deep), while teammate Jorge Gutierrez continues to lead the conference in intangibles while contributing solid tangible stats to boot (12.9 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 3.9 APG). As for dark horse candidates who are just now beginning to go to the whip? Oregon State’s Roberto Nelson has averaged 15 points a contest over his last four, just barely starting to scratch the surface of his potential, while the aforementioned Devoe Joseph could get in the conversation with a strong showing in conference play.

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Pac-12 Morning Five: 12.14.11 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on December 14th, 2011

  1. Oregon State bounced back from its Friday night loss to Idaho by taking out its frustrations on Illinois-Chicago last night, torching the Flames with a 64.9% eFG in their 95-53 win last night. Sophomore guard Roberto Nelson had the second-best scoring game of his career, going for 21 points on 5-of-7 shooting from deep, while redshirt freshman forward Eric Moreland grabbed a career-high 14 rebounds and blocked five shots. Prior to the game, head coach Craig Robinson called the loss on Friday an anomaly due in part to the shock of the death of OSU football player Fred Thompson last Wednesday. After last night’s performance, we’re a bit closer to buying that explanation.
  2. While Oregon came away with a win Monday night against Portland State, they also suffered an injury blow in the second half when senior forward Tyrone Nared went down with a knee injury during a scramble for a loose ball. While the extent of his injury is not currently known, head coach Dana Altman said that he is expecting Nared to miss at least the next four games, taking the team right up to conference play. The Ducks are deeper this season along the front line and Nared is getting less than 20 minutes per game, but he is one of their best frontcourt defenders and a surprisingly efficient offensive player.
  3. Washington State has been on a roll lately, and they’ve been doing it all without some key contributors. Senior guard Faisal Aden has missed the last three games with the after-effects of a concussion, Mychal Ladd has missed the last five games with a sprained thumb, and senior forward Abe Lodwick has yet to play this season due to a fractured foot. But all three of those guys are nearing a return, although head coach Ken Bone made it clear that each of them will have to earn back their playing time. In Ladd’s absence, freshman Dexter Kernich-Drew has stepped into a bigger role, while fellow freshman DaVonte Lacy has helped cover for Aden. But more than any other Coug, it has been little-used senior Charlie Enquist who had stepped up in recent games to spur WSU on to their four-game winning streak.
  4. Washington may have left their temporary New York residency with an 0-2 record, but head coach Lorenzo Romar was able to find some positives in the trip. To begin with, Romar was very appreciative of the fan support his team received in Madison Square Garden, and proud of the national exposure his team has earned. Having played in the last three NCAA Tournaments, the Maui Invitational last year, the two games in New York this past week, and with a spot in the Hall of Fame Classic next year along with Ohio State and others, the Huskies are hopeful that their national presence will help them continue to get recruits from across the country.
  5. In a feature piece on Stanford’s sophomore point guard Aaron Bright in the San Francisco Chronicle, some of last year’s struggles for the Cardinal were laid at the feet of some “friction” between last year’s six-man freshman class and “some upperclassmen who thought their roles were threatened.” Given that said friction is apparently gone this year and that the only player not back from last year’s team is Jeremy Green (last year’s leading scorer who headed off in search of an NBA paycheck a year early), one can read between the lines and consider the decision by Green to depart Palo Alto to be a classic case of addition by subtraction.
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Checking in on… the WAC

Posted by jstevrtc on January 16th, 2010

Sam Wasson of bleedCrimson.net and Travis Mason-Bushman of Vandal Nation are the RTC correspondents for the Western Athletic Conference.

The WAC opened up league play this past weekend and after the first weekend there were a couple of surprises.  The biggest surprise came from Utah State.  The Aggies went on the road to open up league play and lost to New Mexico State in a close game and then were blown out by Louisiana Tech two nights later.  The preseason pick to win the league by both the media and coaches has their work cut out for them if they hope to win the league title for a third consecutive season.

Current Standings:

  1. Louisiana Tech, 17-2 (5-0)
  2. New Mexico State, 10-7 (3-1)
  3. Fresno State 10-8 (3-1)
  4. Utah State, 12-6 (2-2)
  5. Nevada, 10-7 (2-2)
  6. San Jose State 9-7 (2-2)
  7. Idaho 8-7, (1-3)
  8. Hawai’i, 8-9 (1-3)
  9. Boise State, 9-9 (0-5)

After the first two weekends of play there has been some significant shifting among the top and bottom.  Louisiana Tech continues to lead the league race starting out 5-0 while on the opposite end of the spectrum, Boise State is really behind the eight ball after losing their first five games of conference play.  With this year’s tournament no longer having a play-in game between the 8th and 9th place teams, the Broncos will be fighting for their postseason lives the rest of the way.

Boise State (9-9, 0-5)

The week’s results:

  • 01/09 L vs. New Mexico State, 88-85
  • 01/11 L vs. Louisiana Tech, 79-64
  • 01/14 L @ San Jose State, 76-74

Upcoming games:

  • 01/16 @ Utah State
  • 01/20 vs. Nevada

Disaster.  After entering league play at 9-4 the Broncos are on a five game skid and, even though it’s only a quarter way through the league schedule, they have to be in a bit of a panic mode.  Only the top eight teams in the league will participate in the WAC tournament this season as the league has gotten rid of the play-in game between the 8th and 9th place team.  The Broncos’ road does not get any easier with games at Utah State and then versus Nevada at home followed by the in-state rivalry game at Idaho.  It is entirely possible that the Broncos could be 0-8 midway through the conference race.

Fresno State (10-8, 3-1)

The week’s results:

  • 01/09 W vs. Hawai’i, 78-64
  • 01/11 W vs. San Jose State, 80-70
  • 01/14 L @ Louisiana Tech, 81-73

Upcoming games:

  • 01/16 @ New Mexico State
  • 01/21 vs. Utah State

The Bulldogs won two of three games over the past week and sit tied for second with New Mexico State.  The Bulldogs picked up a solid win over San Jose State and made one of the longest road trips in the WAC when they faced Louisiana Tech in Ruston.  The Bulldogs made the trip a man down as starting guard Steven Shepp did not make the trip to Ruston due to “academic” reasons as outlined in a statement from head coach Steve Cleveland.  Fresno State found themselves down big in the second half, falling behind by 20 points at 53-33 with 14:33 left to play.  Fresno State, however, showed some fight in the face of adversity and close the gap to just six at 74-68 with three minutes left — but couldn’t climb any closer over the final stretch.  Sylvester Seay and Paul George combined to score 37 points while Mychal Ladd and Greg Smith each pitched in 27.  Backup guard Brandon Sperling filled in for Shepp with five points.  The Bulldogs got just four points off the bench in the loss. Fresno State travels to New Mexico State on Saturday where they’ll battle the suddenly resurgent Aggies as both teams try to keep pace with Louisiana Tech.

Hawaii (8-9, 1-3)

The week’s results:

  • 01/09 L @ Fresno State, 78-64
  • 01/11 L @ Utah State, 98-54

Upcoming games:

  • 01/18 vs San Jose State

Back-to-back losses by Hawai’i on the mainland have dropped the Warriors below the .500 mark.  They suffered a 14 point defeat at Fresno State and then made the trip to Logan, UT where they were punished from start to finish by Utah State.  While there is certainly no shame in losing in Logan — most teams that enter the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum do not leave victorious — it was the observation of the Salt Lake Tribune‘s Tony Jones that is cause for concern.  Jones stated after the game, “Hawaii flat out quit in this game and that’s pretty embarrassing for a Division I team to do with 30 minutes remaining in a basketball game.” The Warriors host San Jose State as the try to get back on the positive side of things.

Idaho (8-7, 1-3)

The week’s results:

  • 01/09 L vs. Louisiana Tech, 77-71
  • 01/11 L vs. New Mexico State, 75-72

Upcoming games:

  • 01/16 @ Nevada

After splitting their conference-opening road trip the Vandals’ regular season title hopes took a big hit as they were swept by Louisiana Tech and New Mexico State at home.  Both games were within reach for the Vandals down the stretch but the inability to make free throws (or any shot, for that matter) in the latter stages of the second half against Louisiana Tech and then the inability to make a defensive stop against New Mexico State in the same time frame cost the Vandals both games.  With a 1-3 record Idaho sits effectively four games behind Louisiana Tech — three games in the  loss column, plus losing the first head-to-head matchup.  The road does not get any easier as they face Nevada at Lawlor Arena in Reno on Saturday, a place where they have only won once since joining the WAC (it was just last season).

Louisiana Tech (16-2, 4-0)

The week’s results:

  • 01/09 W @ Idaho, 77-71
  • 01/11 W @ Boise State, 79-64
  • 01/14 vs. Fresno State, 81-73

Upcoming games:

  • 01/21 @ San Jose State

The Bulldogs continue to impress after a road sweep in the state of Idaho and a home victory over second place Fresno State.  After securing a hard fought victory over Idaho, the Bulldogs ran roughshod over the Broncos, winning 79-64.  At 17-2 the Bulldogs are off to their best start since the 1984-85 season and have rattled off ten consecutive victories.  Their 5-0 league record is their best start since joining the WAC.  Kyle Gibson scored a career-high 33 points in the victory over visiting Fresno State. Louisiana Tech takes their show back on the road as they’ll face San Jose State on the 21st, part of their longest road trip of the season as they’ll face Hawai’i two nights later.

Nevada (10-7, 2-2)

The week’s results:

  • 01/09 W vs. San Jose State, 96-67
  • 01/13 L vs. Utah State, 79-72 (OT)

Upcoming games:

  • 01/16 vs. Idaho
  • 01/20 @ Boise State

After splitting their opening road trip in conference play the Wolf Pack did the same in their first two home conference games.  After picking up an impressive 96-67 victory over a better-than-their-record San Jose State squad the Wolf Pack hosted Utah State on Wednesday night in a nationally televised game on ESPN2.  While the two teams did not disappoint on the court for most home viewers, it was the Wolf Pack fans who went home disappointed.  Nevada gave up a 10-point second half lead and were pushed to overtime where Utah State took over the game.  The Wolf Pack hit just 9-18 free throws in the game.  The loss evened the Wolf Pack’s record to 2-2 in league play but with games against the two Idaho schools coming up, they could put themselves in a good position nearly midway through the league race.

New Mexico State (10-7, 3-1)

The week’s results:

  • 01/09 W @ Boise State, 88-85
  • 01/11 W @ Idaho, 75-72

Upcoming games:

  • 01/16 vs. Fresno State

New Mexico State erased the disappointment of their home loss to Nevada by sweeping the state of Idaho in a pair of down-to-the-wire games.  The Aggies faced off against Boise State in a game in which neither team seemed to be able to hold a lead.  In the first half the Aggies led by six, then trailed by ten, but cut the lead to four by halftime.  Then in the second half the Aggies led by two early in the second half, but then trailed by seven shortly thereafter…only to go up by nine with under nine minutes left.  They then gave up the lead and trailed by four with just under two minutes left before finally rallying to win by three.  It was the sixth consecutive game between the two that the victorious team scored at least 80 points.  Against Idaho, the Aggies’ Jahmar Young scored 32 points, one shy of his career high; every point was critical as the Aggies held off Idaho down the stretch.  The Aggies have never had an easy time in Moscow but continued their dominance over the Vandals, having now won nine of the last ten meetings. The Aggies host Fresno State on Saturday with second place in the standings on the line.  With Louisiana Tech threatening to make the league race a fight for second, the Aggies and Bulldogs will both be hungry for the win to try to keep pace with Louisiana Tech.

San Jose State (9-7, 2-2)

The week’s results:

  • 01/09 L @ Nevada, 96-67
  • 01/11 L @ Fresno, 80-70
  • 01/14 W vs. Boise State, 76-74

Upcoming games:

  • 01/18 @ Hawai’i
  • 01/21 vs. Louisiana Tech

The Spartans played three games over the past week and came away with a 1-2 record.  After getting blown out by Nevada and losing on the road to Fresno State, the Spartans bounced back with a win over Boise State at home.  Adrian Oliver led the way with a season-high 33 points.  It was SJSU’s first win over Boise State in their past 15 games and just their second win in the past 21 meetings.  San Jose State makes the trip to the islands to face a reeling Hawai’i squad before returning home to host league leader Louisiana Tech.

Utah State (12-6, 2-2)

The week’s results:

  • 01/11 W vs. Hawai’i, 98-54
  • 01/13 W @ Nevada, 79-72 (OT)

Upcoming games:

  • 01/16 vs. Boise State
  • 01/21 @ Fresno State

Shellshocked no more. Whatever the Aggies were missing on offense in their first two league games in averaging just 55 points per game, they found it when they returned to Logan.  The Aggies stomped visiting Hawai’i, scoring 98 points –  43 above their average in the first two games.  They followed it up with a gritty road victory over Nevada in overtime.  The Aggies erased a 10-point deficit late in the second half to force overtime,  subsequently outscoring Nevada 10-3 as Jared Quayle and Tyler Newbold each hit three pointers for the Aggies.  Utah State found their shot as they hit 50% of their three point attempts in the game (8-16) and were 11-13 from the free throw line.

UPCOMING GAMES

  • 01/16 – Nevada vs. Idaho – 7:00 p.m. PT
  • 01/16 – Utah State vs. Boise State – 7:00 p.m. MT (CW30-Utah)
  • 01/16 – New Mexico State vs. Fresno State – 7:00 p.m. MT (AggieVision, Bulldog Sports Network)
  • 01/17 – Hawai’i vs. San Jose State – 7:00 p.m. HT (KFVE Honolulu)
  • 01/20 – Boise State vs. Nevada – 7:00 p.m. MT (Comcast SportsNet California)
  • 01/21 – Fresno State vs. Utah State – 7:00 p.m. PT
  • 01/21 – San Jose State vs. Louisiana Tech – 7:00 p.m. PT
  • 01/21 – Hawai’i vs. New Mexico State – 7:00 p.m. HT (KFVE Honolulu)
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Checking in on the… WAC

Posted by rtmsf on February 26th, 2009

Kevin McCarthy of Parsing the WAC and Sam Wasson of bleedCrimson.net are the RTC correspondents for the WAC. 

Current Standings:

  1. Utah State (12-1, 25-3)
  2. Nevada (8-4, 16-10)
  3. New Mexico State (8-5, 15-12)
  4. Boise State (7-5, 17-9)
  5. Idaho (6-6, 13-13)
  6. Hawai’i (5-8, 13-13)
  7. San Jose State (4-8, 11-14)
  8. Louisiana Tech (4-9, 12-16)
  9. Fresno State (2-10, 11-17)

The race for the league title and the automatic bid to the NIT should be decided on Thursday night. Utah State hosts Hawai’i with a chance to wrap up the regular season title, their second in the past two seasons. For Utah State however, they’re looking to make their first NCAA tournament appearance since the 2005-06 season, that year they received an at-large bid after finishing second in the regular season and losing to Nevada in the title game of the conference tournament. The UtAgs, despite a record of 25-3 don’t want to leave anything to chance as they still feel the sting of finishing 25-3, being ranked 21st but not receiving an at large bid after losing in the Big West semifinal to Cal State-Northridge 63-62.

As for the rest of the league, the race for second place is on as Nevada (8-4), New Mexico State (8-5), Boise State (7-5) and Idaho (6-6) can all finish as high as 2nd.

And not to be left out, the bottom four teams, Hawai’i (5-8), San Jose State (4-8), Louisiana Tech (4-9) and Fresno State (2-10) are all playing to stay out of the league’s 8/9-seed play-in game (with the winner having to face likely 1-seed Utah State) in the quarterfinal round.

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Checking in on the… WAC

Posted by rtmsf on February 19th, 2009

Kevin McCarthy of Parsing the WAC and Sam Wasson of bleedCrimson.net are the RTC correspondents for the WAC.

Current Standings

  1. Utah State (12-1, 24-2)
  2. Nevada (8-4, 15-10)
  3. Boise State (7-4, 17-7)
  4. New Mexico State (8-5, 14-12)
  5. Idaho (5-6, 11-13)
  6. Hawai’i (4-8, 12-12)
  7. San Jose State (4-8, 11-13)
  8. Louisiana Tech (4-9, 10-16)
  9. Fresno State (2-9, 10-16)

Random Thoughts: The rest of the league can thank us for putting the serious jinx on the UtAgs with our mention of potential undefeatedness in last week’s WAC Check-In. That being said, Utah State (12-1) will not be caught — a wise man told us — in the race for the league championship despite falling to Boise State Saturday night … Nevada has managed a solid 8-4 WAC record to date despite a young team and some returning players positioned in new roles … Boise State Coach Greg Graham and his Broncos stand at 7-4 with these games remaining until tourney time: Idaho, @ Portland State (BracketBuster), @ Louisiana Tech, @ New Mexico State, Fresno State and Nevada. That same wise man refused to offer who was going to be the second place finisher in the WAC and then told us to get off his lawn.

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Checking in on the… WAC

Posted by rtmsf on February 12th, 2009

Kevin McCarthy of Parsing the WAC and Sam Wasson of bleedCrimson.net are the RTC correspondents for the WAC.

Playing for second. The Utah State Aggies can wrap up a share of the regular season WAC title this week with a win over Idaho. And if they are to do it, they’ll have to do it on the road. Utah State is 11-0 in league play and is looking to complete the first undefeated season since TCU turned the trick in the 1997-98 season at 14-0 and then a year later when Utah also completed the feat going 14-0. In both cases the teams were playing in the then (and first) 16 team league and won their division. The race for the league’s 2-seed in the conference tournament is heating up as five teams are within two games of each other with anywhere from five (NM State) to seven (Idaho) league games remaining.

Current Standings:

  1. #17/21 Utah State (11-0, 23-1)
  2. Boise State (6-4, 16-7)
  3. Nevada (6-4, 13-10)
  4. New Mexico State (6-5, 12-12)
  5. Idaho (4-5, 10-12)
  6.  San Jose State (4-7, 12-11)
  7. Hawai’i (4-7, 12-11)
  8. Louisiana Tech (3-8, 9-15)
  9. Fresno State (2-7, 10-14)

Official Player of the Week: For the third time this season, Utah State’s Gary Wilkinson has been named the Western Athletic Conference Men’s Basketball Player of the Week.  Versus New Mexico State, he scored 18 points and nabbed 11 boards. He didn’t miss all night — going 5-5 from the floor and 8-8 at the foul line. Wilkinson then added 16 points against Louisiana Tech.

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Checking in on the… WAC

Posted by rtmsf on January 9th, 2009

Kevin McCarthy of Parsing the WAC and Sam Wasson from bleedCrimson.net are the RTC correspondents for the WAC.

Current Standings

  1. New Mexico State (2-0, 8-7)
  2. Utah State (1-0, 13-1)
  3. Boise State (1-0, 10-3)
  4. Hawai’i (1-1, 9-5)
  5. Idaho (1-1, 7-8 )
  6. Louisiana Tech (1-1, 7-8 )
  7. Nevada (0-1, 7-7)
  8. Fresno State (0-1, 7-8 )
  9. San Jose State (0-2, 6-6)

Player of the Week: No, the WAC has not adopted a bird as the league symbol,  but it did select Jared Quayle (no relation to former VP Dan to our knowledge) of Utah State as the conference Player of the Week. Quayle was the MVP of the 2008 Duel in the Desert after scoring 17 points, grabbing 11 boards and passing out seven assists against Howard and then coming back with a line of 15 points, six rebounds, five assists and two steals against Houston Baptist. Quayle then managed a double-double of 24 points and 10 boards versus Wyoming.

Other candidates: Boise State’s Mark Sanchez, Fresno State’s Paul George, Hawai’i’s Roderick Flemings, New Mexico State’s Wendell McKines.

Opening night in the WAC had the teams away from home enthusiastically whistling “On The Road Again” — that is, until they played their second games with the exception of New Mexico State.

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Checking in on the… WAC

Posted by rtmsf on December 11th, 2008

Kevin McCarthy from Parsing The WAC and Sam Wasson from bleedCrimson.net are the RTC correspondents for the WAC.

The Move Along, There’s Nothing To See Here Edition… In a week that saw idle WAC football teams make more headlines than their hardwood counterparts, the WAC collective did little to bolster the hope that they will send more than one team to the NCAA tournament come March. The league had several opportunities to get victories against fellow mid-majors and a couple of high-majors but came up well short in the wins department. Of the 13 games of interest from last week the WAC combined to win just four of those games, two of those wins coming courtesy of Boise State, the other two coming courtesy of San Jose State (over San Diego) and Fresno State (over the U. of Pacific Tigers). The WAC is now 33-28 on the season against non-conference opponents.

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